My visit to Nigeria!
l had been away from Nigeria now for over three years. Precisely on July 16, 2016, l bolted from Nigeria to the US with the hope of finding a comfortable alternative to my depreciating existence!
As they say, home is home though it may not seem so homely! Please follow me as I recount my recent visit to Nigeria!
As l exited Nigeria for the US, especially as age was not on my side, l knew life wasn’t going to be as rosy for me as it would if l had migrated in my prime! But that notwithstanding l still knew that anything was better than remaining in Nigeria!
On November 30, 2019, after about 31/2 years of my sojourn in the US, I decided to pay a visit back home. I was very excited about coming back home to be with my friends. As the Ethiopian airline landed us at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, l boarded a cab which took me to Festac where l had my residence. On the way to Festac l discovered everywhere was blocked and cars were meandering through packed trailers littering both sides of the road. Most vehicles were leaving their lanes and driving one-way to beat the heavy traffic. There was confusion everywhere as vehicles and motorbikes, in trying to outmaneuver themselves, blasted their horns at every turn in the tight traffic! I can’t remember the last time I heard any motorist sounding their horn in the US!
We were held up in the traffic for hours, sweating! I thought we would never get to Festac. At long last, we were able to make it there. On getting to Festac everywhere was in complete darkness. No light. We were told that the whole of the community had been without electricity for over a week now! That was not strange, though! I was forced out of the country mainly for that same reason! So as l was planning for my visit l had to make sure a generator was ready for me… both to provide light and to pump water from a borehole. Yes, in Nigeria you have to make your own private provision for light and water and other utilities that ought to have been provided by the government! That was how it was when I left the country and that’s what l met when I returned! No change, even though “change” is the Moto of this present government!
Everywhere was excruciatingly hot…both the inside and the outside of the house! The generator l had, though relatively big, could only turn the fans but not the A/C. The noise of the generator was deafening but no one gave a hoot to that now as long as the generator could give you light, turn your fans and pump your water! With the fan on l thought the heat would subside. No, l was wrong! The fan only spread the heat around the house!
The next five days my generator was kept working nonstop since I couldn’t stay a minute without light. On the sixth day, l heard a loud jubilation outside my house as everybody began to jump and shout: “Up ‘NEPA’! Up ‘NEPA’!”
Alas, the light has come! I quickly made a change-over and put on my a/c. The shout had hardly died down when all of a sudden “Up ‘NEPA’” turned into a mournful hiss!
“Nonsense ‘NEPA’! They have taken the light again,” l overheard my neighbor cursed and mourned.
I turned the change-over back to the generator, and the hot air returned! In the days to follow I would leave the house in the morning to sit under the shade of a mango tree belonging to my neighbour. In the evening when the sun went down l would walk back to the house. At night I would lie on the bare floor (with no clothes on, of course) and shower intermittently until daybreak! No sleep! The water from the borehole was hot enough to make tea!
However a relief was to come when my church held her National December Retreat which ran from Saturday 21 to Wednesday 26. All of us (members of the church and invitees) were glad, especially knowing as usual that the church was going to make light available throughout the duration of the program!
Before the retreat started l was assured by a pastor friend of mine that there would be an accommodation for me. As I arrived at the venue of the program I called the pastor to inform him that l had arrived. He told me where he was and l went there to meet him. He took me to Goshen, one of the pastor’s hostels, and I heard him pleading with those in charge to give me a bed space. They initially refused, saying all the beds had been taken up. My friend told them that l was one of them before l relocated to the US. That touched them, l think, and they agreed to give me a bed. They took me round the hostel, containing about 50 double-bunk beds in an open hall, to look for a free bed, The hostel was hot and airtight, though fans attached to the ceiling were blowing air. The ground was not only dusty, but it was also filthy and untarred! Some brethren were sleeping on mattresses placed on the bare floor, even near the toilet area! Not quite long into the search, they found a double-bunk bed whose top was vacant. It had a mattress but the mattress didn’t come with a pillow or bedspread! Everywhere in the hostel was sending out putrefying odour! Though the toilet had running water, you had to cover your nose to approach the area!
To put it mildly, Goshen was an eyesore! I slept in the hostel, on the bare mattress with no pillow, all through the duration of the program! Before I slept l would plead the blood of Jesus on the bed. I was afraid I was going to catch skin disease. But instead of catching skin disease what I caught was cough and catarrh!
Generally, the retreat was wonderful. The messages given by the GS, as usual, were incisive, excellent and heart-lifting. I was blessed by them beyond measure! The only thing that took away the shine from an otherwise excellent program was lack of basic utilities. The hostels and the toilet facilities in the camp were an embarrassment of no mean parts!
On the plane, on my way home to the US, as l penned down this note, l couldn’t think of nothing but the plight of those l left behind! The drew tears from my eyes!
Edaghese lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.